The Little Boy Who Survived the Texas Church Shooting

Ryland Ward is 5-years-old.  A few weeks ago, he was attending church with his family at First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas.

As you know, during the service, Devin Kelly, a 26-year-old man, walked into the church and began firing.  Ryland was shot once in the elbow, twice in the stomach and twice in the leg.  He was one of the few survivors and when his uncle carried him out of the church, he was awake, but he wasn't talking.  His stepmother and three sisters, whom he was with in the service, didn't make it out.  

It is hard to imagine the pain and suffering that little Ryland is going through.  As I was praying for Ryland this morning, I had these thoughts...

We are surrounded by kids and families who are hurting.  In most cases, they may not be wounded physically, but they are wounded emotionally and spiritually.  Hurt by divorce, abuse, addiction, dysfunction, financial crisis and more.

They are hanging on, waiting for someone to help them.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus coming to them.  God wants to work Isaiah 61 through your life.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon you, for the LORD has anointed you to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent you to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed."
Great pain requires great works to help.  The good news is you are anointed and appointed.  You can reach out to the hurting kids and families in your community with a Godfidence that rests upon this promise. 

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  
- John 14:12

When tragedy strikes, we often feel at loss about what to say and what to do for those who are hurting.  We know anything we say will be inadequate to meet their needs.  That's where God steps in and makes up the difference.  He will work work through you and do what you cannot do.  He will use you to...

bring prayer to the pain

bring hope to the hurting

bring blessings to the brokenness

bring comfort to the challenges

We have a real enemy whose goal is to kill, steal and destroy.  Though it was a human hand that pulled the trigger, we know the originating source was the enemy of our souls.  Satan is a roaring lion, seeking to devour kids and families.  We must stand against him for the kids and families in our community.  We must come against him with prayer and the power of God's Word.  Don't take what you do lightly.  Equip yourself as it says in Ephesians 6.

"Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.   

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

We are called to go on a journey with kids and families who have been hurt.  Ryland has a long road ahead of him.  He will be affected by this for the rest of his life.  He will need people to stand by his side and go the distance with him.

Ministry is normally not just one and done.  We must go on a journey with kids and families and be committed to them for the long haul.  We must be there to walk with them on the mountaintops and in the valleys. 
Extraordinary impact is not made in days or months or even years.  It is made by investing in kids and families over the course of decades. 
We must do our best to make church a safe place for children and their families.  The sad fact is we can no longer assume that church is a safe place for children.  We must be proactive in making it a safe place for children.  Children and families should be protected at church.  In this article, I share how to do this.

If you would like to support Ryland, there is a GoFundMe page set up by his family to help cover his medical expenses.

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